Mike Strange: Tennessee coaches know moving on comes with the territory

Mike Strange
Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner runs a drill with cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley during practice at Haslam Field at the University of Tennessee Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.  (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer, copyright © 2012

Tennessee defensive back Prentiss Waggner runs a drill with cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley during practice at Haslam Field at the University of Tennessee Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

John Palermo got into the coaching business the same year I got into the newspaper business. I'm at my third paper. Palermo is at his 13th job.

Tennessee is Sam Pittman's 14th stop since he began as a student coach at Pittsburg State (Kansas) in 1984. Between 1997 and 2003, he was at six different schools in seven years.

"We know the nature of the beast,'' said UT assistant Darrin Hinshaw, who is at his fifth school since 1999.

The nature of the beast is that assistant football coaches are a nomadic bunch. Lawyers or dentists usually land in a community, dig in and grow roots.

Coaches keep Mayflower's number handy.

"When you chose a profession like this that's so results-oriented,'' said UT cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley, "you've got to be prepared when things aren't going like you plan them to.''

Tennessee's football season hasn't gone as planned. Some, if not all, of the staff likely will be gone, period.

I know, most of you out there aren't particularly sympathetic. These guys are well paid. And all but one member of Derek Dooley's staff — Charlie Coiner — are due some amount of buyout because they're working on multi-year contracts.

Even so, I don't envy anyone having to uproot a family and start all over somewhere else. And then do it again a couple of years later.

UT football has been in flux since Phillip Fulmer was fired in 2008. Lane Kiffin brought a new set of coaches to town in 2009 and left 14 months later.

Jim Chaney survived the Kiffin year and stayed on under Dooley as offensive coordinator. He's finishing his fourth season at UT, which means his family is finishing its fourth year in Knoxville.

"We're no different than any other profession,'' Chaney said. "You'd love to have stability for your kids.''

Chaney grew up on a Missouri farm. He appreciates a sense of community, of roots.

"I would rather be somewhere 30 years,'' he said. "That's the way I was born and raised and I feel real bad about my kids not getting to do that.''

Chaney hasn't been a jumper. He spent eight years at Fullerton, seven at Purdue. His shortest stint was three years with the NFL Rams. Most coaches would take that average.

Dooley's third UT season began with seven new coaches, an indication all was not well. But they came anyway.

Ansley, a 2005 college grad, had just taken a job at Central Florida. He had no sooner signed a lease than he bolted for Knoxville.

"Tennessee was a no-brainer,'' he said. "I didn't think twice about leaving the job I was at.''

In contrast to Ansley, Palermo is closer to the end of the grind than the beginning. He considers it a blessing he got to stay put 16 years at Wisconsin.

He had already resigned a job at MTSU last December when UT called.

"A place like Tennessee was a great opportunity,'' Palermo said. "You've got to seize the moment and take it.''

If the pink slip comes, he'll retrace his route back to the house he and his wife built near Dale Hollow Lake:

"We'll just throw stuff in the U-Haul trailer and I'm an hour and 45 minutes down the road.''

In the meantime, being the pros that they are, Dooley's assistants are doing what they were hired to do. This week, it's trying to beat Vanderbilt.

"The good Lord,'' said Pittman, "is going to send us somewhere or keep us here.

"Whatever it may be, there's not a whole lot you can do about it other than roll up your sleeves and go to work.''

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 andhttp://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 18

cltvol writes:

We will beat Vandy. Some things never change. Our worst is better than their first. I don't care if its James Franklin or Jame Buchanan or Franklin Pierce doing the coaching. There has been a lot distracting these boards this week, and the hatred of the bile and dung colored peabody teachers college has been placed on the back burner. George Cafego is rolling over in his used van in his grave right now. Joe Thompson is out there somewhere with disbelief that the Vol Nation is ranting more about the coaching situation than the fact that Peabody U is favored in this game. We will beat them. They suck. Decades and decades of failure cannot be overcome. There is an immovable object of losing combined with an irressistable force of futility. Its like skunk stench and there are no tubs available to take a tomato juice bath. That odor will simply not go away.

CoverOrange writes:

I don't remember why Chaney left Purdue. They were making noise for a short while.

NashvillePreds writes:

Sounds like the coaches know it's a done deal.

dvhill100 writes:

It's hard to continue to do a job when you believe a pink slip is coming. I give full credit to the coaches on their dedication. Like the posters above, I think we win this. Vandy won't stop our offense and our defense has show some improvement (yes, I know but I tend to be a half full kind of person).

laraccoon writes:

maybe we can find some coaches out there who can teach our boys how to tackle, where to line up and how many men are suppose to be on the field .its hard to defend coaches who for whatever reason field a team that lacks the basic fundamentals of the game . but after witnessing Dooleys clock management its easy to see how such simple things were overlooked . Dooley makes way too much coin to give games away like the Missouri game .

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

"tennessee was a no brainer" Iam sure for Ansley he couldn't believe he coat tailed into this job.. News Flash Ansley!!! Your secondary is the worst in the NCAA and hands down the worst Ive ever witnessed wearing Orange!! No fond farewells from me and good luck at NW alabama state

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to cltvol:

We will beat Vandy. Some things never change. Our worst is better than their first. I don't care if its James Franklin or Jame Buchanan or Franklin Pierce doing the coaching. There has been a lot distracting these boards this week, and the hatred of the bile and dung colored peabody teachers college has been placed on the back burner. George Cafego is rolling over in his used van in his grave right now. Joe Thompson is out there somewhere with disbelief that the Vol Nation is ranting more about the coaching situation than the fact that Peabody U is favored in this game. We will beat them. They suck. Decades and decades of failure cannot be overcome. There is an immovable object of losing combined with an irressistable force of futility. Its like skunk stench and there are no tubs available to take a tomato juice bath. That odor will simply not go away.

You're a lot more confident than I am. I look for Franklin to attempt slowing the game down, and I look for the little scat back Kimbrow to exploit UT's weakness on the edge. Rogers and Matthews are capable of hurting UT with the pass, seeing how the UT secondary blows coverage a lot and the D line doesn't get much pressure on QBs. Vandy's pass defense appears good on paper but we'll see how that works out for UT. Vandy's D does seem more vulnerable to the run. Vandy's offense is not quite as productive as last season, but UT's defense has made some teams look a lot better than they are offensively.

cltvol writes:

As with many other delights of following the Big Orange the past few years, the joy of loathing the perennially under-matched opposition during Vandy week has, alas, faded. Like Cafego and Thompson, I dear sir, refuse to relinquish that pleasure. There seems to be fewer of us around. Though the mighty of the two teams has fallen, its not so far into the abyss to produce a loss. We will be victorious not only morally but on the scoreboard. We will win, because they cannot.

underthehill writes:

in response to snuffysmiff:

You're a lot more confident than I am. I look for Franklin to attempt slowing the game down, and I look for the little scat back Kimbrow to exploit UT's weakness on the edge. Rogers and Matthews are capable of hurting UT with the pass, seeing how the UT secondary blows coverage a lot and the D line doesn't get much pressure on QBs. Vandy's pass defense appears good on paper but we'll see how that works out for UT. Vandy's D does seem more vulnerable to the run. Vandy's offense is not quite as productive as last season, but UT's defense has made some teams look a lot better than they are offensively.

Vandy has a huge edge in coaching. I expect them to design blitz options UT has not seen..I see this game as the most important in the history of Vandy football..not all that important to UT at this time..don't know if that will affect the outcome..this one could go either way...

snuffysmiff writes:

in response to underthehill:

Vandy has a huge edge in coaching. I expect them to design blitz options UT has not seen..I see this game as the most important in the history of Vandy football..not all that important to UT at this time..don't know if that will affect the outcome..this one could go either way...

You can live by the blitz, but you can also die by the blitz. I have MUCH MORE confidence in Jim Chaney than I do Sunseri.

DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho writes:

"Even so, I don't envy anyone having to uproot a family and start all over somewhere else. And then do it again a couple of years later."

Military families do it all the time for a fraction of the money.

signalcorps writes:

at lease these coachs make very good money these days

signalcorps writes:

in response to DwayneElizondoMountainDewHerbertCamacho:

"Even so, I don't envy anyone having to uproot a family and start all over somewhere else. And then do it again a couple of years later."

Military families do it all the time for a fraction of the money.

aman brother

Vols4life77 writes:

I appreciate their work ethic knowing this is their last two games. I also appreciate their leadership and saying the right things when it would be easy to quit. Hell if I was a coach and read messages on these boards it would probably be even easier to say screw it. I guess I'm just glad even though these coaches haven't had the success we wanted, at least they are able to show more class than half of the posters on this site.

gobigorange5090 writes:

in response to cltvol:

We will beat Vandy. Some things never change. Our worst is better than their first. I don't care if its James Franklin or Jame Buchanan or Franklin Pierce doing the coaching. There has been a lot distracting these boards this week, and the hatred of the bile and dung colored peabody teachers college has been placed on the back burner. George Cafego is rolling over in his used van in his grave right now. Joe Thompson is out there somewhere with disbelief that the Vol Nation is ranting more about the coaching situation than the fact that Peabody U is favored in this game. We will beat them. They suck. Decades and decades of failure cannot be overcome. There is an immovable object of losing combined with an irressistable force of futility. Its like skunk stench and there are no tubs available to take a tomato juice bath. That odor will simply not go away.

It is my hope we beat the commode-ores, but I wouldnt bet the farm on it. Right now, Vandy is the better team.

ambrown64 writes:

in response to cltvol:

As with many other delights of following the Big Orange the past few years, the joy of loathing the perennially under-matched opposition during Vandy week has, alas, faded. Like Cafego and Thompson, I dear sir, refuse to relinquish that pleasure. There seems to be fewer of us around. Though the mighty of the two teams has fallen, its not so far into the abyss to produce a loss. We will be victorious not only morally but on the scoreboard. We will win, because they cannot.

"the joy of loathing the perennially under-matched opposition..." Your prosaic musings gots me-a-thinkin' yer one of them Vandy Fugitive Poets.

Amazingly, I can read your post in character as either Howard Cosell or Foghorn Leghorn, and it works either way.

I'm done being frustrated and disappointed by this team. I just want them to win out and these guys to get a dignified exit. They cared deeply enough and worked hard enough, but just couldn't click.

We started seeing wide-open acreage on the defense in Q3 of Florida...and its still not fixed. When you see the other guys making plays in such open space, it is hard to process. I still don't understand it.

In terms of maturity this team has handled themselves well. It is a shame they couldn't pull out a strong win. I think they earned a taste, and they never really got one. Missouri sure was a sour note. Its the resounding thud of Tennessee's rump hitting bottom. Today we are hardluck SEC Cellar Dwellers.

Pull for your team the rest of the way. I think these kids would love to get a bowl game, and I'd love to watch them win one.

We have an incredible history, an adoring fan base and a great southern football experience. A little success and Big Orange Country will quickly get its mojo back. Go Vols.

cltvol writes:

Trying to keep the Cafego faith in perspective with all the writen' and contorten' on the HC situation in Big OC. Was told by an ex-kicker that Cafego pretty much kept to the kickers during practice all season long til Vandy week. Then he would cuss them jon boat paddlen' aristocrats with every breath for the entire squad and they loved it. Haten' like that's a lost art. Nothing personal at all. Its not about the kids inside the dung and bile costumes. Not at all. Its about the dang unis and the institution. Now that's tradition.

cltvol writes:

in response to ambrown64:

"the joy of loathing the perennially under-matched opposition..." Your prosaic musings gots me-a-thinkin' yer one of them Vandy Fugitive Poets.

Amazingly, I can read your post in character as either Howard Cosell or Foghorn Leghorn, and it works either way.

I'm done being frustrated and disappointed by this team. I just want them to win out and these guys to get a dignified exit. They cared deeply enough and worked hard enough, but just couldn't click.

We started seeing wide-open acreage on the defense in Q3 of Florida...and its still not fixed. When you see the other guys making plays in such open space, it is hard to process. I still don't understand it.

In terms of maturity this team has handled themselves well. It is a shame they couldn't pull out a strong win. I think they earned a taste, and they never really got one. Missouri sure was a sour note. Its the resounding thud of Tennessee's rump hitting bottom. Today we are hardluck SEC Cellar Dwellers.

Pull for your team the rest of the way. I think these kids would love to get a bowl game, and I'd love to watch them win one.

We have an incredible history, an adoring fan base and a great southern football experience. A little success and Big Orange Country will quickly get its mojo back. Go Vols.

and i do agree with your football comments,,word for word. This team deserves a quality exit and its still possible if not highly probable.

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